Shared Driveway Agreements – A Homebuyer’s Guide

Photo by Finn Mund on Unsplash

You’re in contract to purchase a home and everything is going great, until… Out of the blue, you get a phone call or an email from your lender: you need a Shared Driveway Agreement to complete your purchase.  

This isn’t uncommon, but it can add confusion or surprise to the process of buying a home.  

The good news is, they’re put in place to protect you – to create security and peace of mind.  

Here are answers to common questions to help you better understand Shared Driveway Agreements.  

What is a Shared Driveway Agreement?  

I’m going to put on my lawyer hat here for a minute to explain… What is a Shared Driveway Agreement? Well, it’s a type of easement. But what is an easement? That’s the right to use someone else’s land. A Shared Driveway Agreement is a type of easement that affects multiple property owners.  

So, when you have a Shared Driveway Agreement, what it means is that you have a legal document prepared by a lawyer granting mutual rights to neighbors to share a common driveway.  

The driveway could be gravel, paved, dirt, or something else, but the right of access to that driveway crosses over a shared boundary line. This may affect two properties, or more. I’ve even seen a case where we drafted a Shared Driveway Agreement for 5 property owners!  

Why would property owners need to share access to a driveway?  

There’s a general principal in the law that all parcels of real estate must have access to public roadways. Otherwise, legally, it’s considered trespassing across other’s property when you try to get across your property to that public roadway.  

A property owner, or someone buying real estate would need shared access to a driveway when their land is located in a position that is otherwise land locked, meaning that property doesn’t have access to a public road.  

How can you find out if you need one?  

As we’ve covered, a property owner must have legal access to physically get to a public road. You need to have a Shared Driveway Agreement drafted when there is not already an easement recorded but there is physically a driveway that is crossing boundary lines and would cause someone to trespass, by definition of the law.  

Typically, your title insurance company will identify a lack of legal access/easement during the title search and call it out on a title insurance commitment. Then, the mortgage lender reviews the title commitment, and will require that the parties have a Shared Driveway Agreement as a loan contingency. 

Why would your lender and title company require buyers to obtain a Shared Driveway Agreement?   

Well, it’s important to the lender because in securing your loan, they have an obligation to protect the mortgage if they ever have to foreclose and take back the property. So, the lender looks at this situation and says it’s a loan underwriting requirement to have a Shared Driveway Agreement in order to put a mortgage on this property.  

The title insurance company wants to insure the title to your property, and to do so, they need to show there’s at least a legal easement in place, to prevent disputes in the future.  

What information is covered?  

You can have a variety of different terms, but a typically a best practice is to define the location of the access easement and the maintenance provisions.  

Ideally, it will define who is going to be paying for what and who is doing what in regard to maintaining the easement. In most situations a shared driveway is paved, but sometimes it’s gravel, or something else. But someone will need to repave it, repair potholes, or replace the gravel from time to time. It’s also important to define who is responsible to clear snow, ice, or other items. In a best-case scenario, every detail would be spelled out.  

How can you get a Shared Driveway Agreement?  

Typically the process begins when the requirement gets made in order to complete the sale transaction of behalf of the buyer because the buyer and lender both have a reason to need an easement to be drafted. And then the lender specifically wants a shared driveway agreement which governs the maintenance provisions of that.  

But who drafts it? Typically, a lawyer as it’s a legal document.  

In Ohio and Kentucky the title company typically hires a lawyer on behalf of the parties, so the title company may outsource this to a lawyer. Sometimes title agencies have a law firm that they are associated with, or their owner is a lawyer, so then that law firm or attorney may draft the document on behalf of either the lender who is requesting it or the buyer who needs it in order to be able to buy the property and put a mortgage on it.  

In the event you’re purchasing property and find you need an easement like this, it’s a good idea to hire your own attorney to draft it to ensure it protects your interest. 

Because if you don’t, the referred lawyer will most likely draft the agreement in a neutral way, instead of drafting it for the interest of the future buyer (you). Sometimes there are additional interests that may come into play, therefore it’s advisable that the buyer needs to have their own counsel.  

If you’re searching for a property and you don’t have real estate counsel, that’s ok. Be sure to write in a 7-day review period into your offer letters, and then when you go into contract, reach out to a professional right away.  

Often, hiring a lawyer can feel like an unnecessary expense in an already expensive and overwhelming process. But for buyers and sellers alike, the value of hiring an attorney to help you navigate your real estate transaction is to help you avoid running into issues that could become very expensive down the road. And when you’re investing hundreds of thousands of dollars into something you’ll own for potentially decades, it’s wise to be as proactive in protecting yourself as possible. 

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🚨 DISCLAIMER: The blog published by Northwest Law is available for informational purposes only and is not considered legal advice on any subject matter. By viewing blog posts, the reader understands there is no attorney-client relationship between the reader and the blog publisher. The blog should not be used as a substitute for legal advice from a licensed professional attorney, and readers are urged to consult their own legal counsel on any specific legal questions concerning a specific situation. 

Wire Fraud Awareness in the Real Estate Industry

By: Jonathan Holfinger, Esq. | Attorney/Partner, OLTP, NTP

Industry-wide, we’ve seen a large increase in wire fraud incidents. In a majority of cases, the cyber criminals have gained access to the real estate transaction by compromising email accounts through phishing.

NWT President, Jonathan Holfinger, shares how real estate professionals can to protect their clients by enabling multi-factor authentication, especially on email accounts.

Check out our how-to guide for enabling multi-factor authentication for popular email platforms here:

How to Enable Multi-Factor Authentication For Gmail, Outlook, and iCloud

Step 1.) Open Your Google Account by heading to

Step 2.) In the navigation panel, select security.

Step 3.) Under “Signing in to Google” select 2-Step Verification > Get started.

Step 4.) Follow the on-screen steps.

How to Enable Multi-Factor Verification for Your Outlook Account

Step 1.) Go to the Security basics page at and sign in with your Microsoft account.

Step 2.) Select “Advanced security options”

Step 3.) Under “Two-step verification”, choose “Set up two-step verification” to turn it on.

Step 4.) Follow the on screen prompts

How to Enable Multi-Factor Verification for Your AppleID and iCloud Account Using Your iPhone

Step 1.) Go to Settings > [your name] > Password & Security.

Step 2.) Tap Turn On Two-Factor Authentication.

Step 3.) Tap Continue.

Step 4.) Enter the phone number where you want to receive verification codes when you sign in. You can choose to receive the codes by text message or automated phone call.

Step 5.) Tap Next.

Step 6.) Enter the verification code to verify your phone number and turn on two-factor authentication.

Want to Enable Multi-Factor Verification for Your AppleID and iCloud Account Over the Web? Here’s How:

Step 1.) Go to, then sign in with your Apple ID.

Step 2.) Answer your security questions, then tap Continue.

Step 3.) You’ll see a prompt to upgrade your account security. Tap Continue.

Step 4.) Click Upgrade Account Security.

Step 5.) Enter the phone number where you want to receive verification codes when you sign in. You can choose to receive the codes by text message or automated phone call.

Step 6.) Click Continue.

Step 7.) Enter the verification code to verify your phone number and turn on two-factor authentication.

Why EVERYONE Should Obtain a Title Insurance Policy

By: Robert Altman, III, Esq. | Attorney

Title Insurance Policy – A contract of title insurance under which the insurer, in keeping with the terms of the policy, agrees to indemnify the insured against loss arising from claims against the insured interest. 

Unfortunately, the adage “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” is not exactly accurate for all life lessons. Sometimes, your mistake is devastating and there is no recovering from it. Period.

To be clear, I am not talking about a situation where you choose between two reasonable choices and the option not chosen would have proven to be more beneficial. Rather, I am getting at a situation where the choice is between doing something you know, or should know, is likely in your best interest, and doing something that amounts to betting it all on black at the casino. That is exactly the decision you are making when you choose between obtaining a title insurance policy or taking a risk and not protecting your investment.

When I first started out as a lawyer a file came across my desk which left a lasting impression on me. Nearly a decade later I can still hear the voices of the then homeowners who, when they called me, were inaudible because their voices were shaking so much. The basic facts of the matter are simple enough:

Seller sold her property to Buyers, who obtained a mortgage to purchase the property. The lender for Buyers obtains a Lenders Policy of Title Insurance. The Buyers do not obtain any policy of title insurance. A year goes by and everything is great. The Buyers receive a notice in the mail that a mortgage note is in default, with a lender they had never heard of, and that the mortgage and therefore the property was going into foreclosure. The Buyers call the title company, which informs them that the mortgage was released per the abstract report provided by the title searcher and provide them with the release. The Buyers contact the mortgage company which sent the notice regarding the release and the mortgage company informs the buyers that the release is fraudulent. The Seller had recorded a fraudulent release of her mortgage and absconded with nearly $400,000. The mortgage company takes legal action to nullify the fraudulent release and proceeds with foreclosure naming the Buyers (the current owners) and the Buyers’ mortgage lender.

What happens next is the cost or benefit of the decision discussed above. The Buyer’s mortgage lender filed a title claim on their lenders policy and was made whole within the month. The underwriter (insuring the claim under that policy) hired an attorney which pursed the Seller for fraud, etc., located the Seller and commenced a costly litigation to reclaim over $300,000 for the amount paid out to the Buyers’ mortgage lender. The Seller’s mortgage company proceeded with the foreclosure action, obtained and sold the home, recovering a portion of what was owed to them. The Buyers…lost everything.

In the above case, the Buyers only choice was to hire an attorney, they could not afford, to pursue a person who was already being pursued by their mortgage lender’s loan policy underwriter. In total, the Buyers lost their down payment, all built up equity, the value of improvements being made to the property, and tarnished the happy memories of buying a home and building something together.

The lesson is simple, don’t gamble with piece of mind.

When I first started at Northwest Title, I read a piece of literature (below) that is passed around with various ways a person can lose their home (or lender can lose their investment) if they don’t have title insurance; I made it to #2 and a chill went down my back. Lesson learned.

Common Title Problems:

1.            False impersonation of the true owner of the land

2.            Forged deeds, releases, etc

3.            Instruments executed under fabricated or expired power of attorney

4.            Deeds delivered after death of grantor or grantee or without consent of grantor

5.            Undisclosed or missing heirs

6.            Misinterpretation of wills

7.            Deeds by persons supposedly single but secretly married

8.            Birth or adoption of children after date of a will

9.            Surviving children omitted from a will

10.          Mistakes made in recording legal documents

11.          Deeds in lieu of foreclosure given under duress

12.          Deed of community property recited to be separate property

13.          Errors in tax records, e.g., listing payment against wrong property

14.          Undisclosed divorce of spouse who conveys as consort’s heir

15.          Marital rights of spouse purportedly, but not legally, divorced

And many more.